Boca Raton, Fla. — Jim Caldwell hasn’t spoken publicly since Lions general manager Bob Quinn chose to retain him as head coach in January.
Prior to the end of the 2015 season in which the Lions finished 7-9 after a 1-7 start, Caldwell said he wouldn’t fight for his job when the team hired a new GM to replace Martin Mayhew. After a few meetings together, Quinn thought his football philosophies meshed with Caldwell’s, but the coach said Wednesday there wasn’t much pressure as he met with the new boss with his job on the line.
“In our business, those conversations are not unheard of,” Caldwell said of speaking with Quinn in January. “They’re not uncommon; they’re typical. I’ve been in that situation before, and you answer them honestly and straightforward and let the chips fall as they may.”
Caldwell, who met with reporters at the NFC coaches breakfast during NFL annual meetings, went through a similar process with Indianapolis early in 2012 after the Colts fired Bill Polian following a 2-14 finish in 2011. Indianapolis hired Ryan Grigson as the new general manager on Jan. 11, and Grigson waited six days before firing Caldwell.
This year, the Lions hired Quinn on Jan. 8 and announced that Caldwell would remain the coach on Jan. 15, explaining later that he and Caldwell agreed on how to develop and acquire players.
“Jim’s entire body of work is impressive,” Quinn said in a statement on Jan. 15. “Not only did he lead the Lions to the playoffs his first season here, but when you look at how the players responded the second half of last season, under difficult circumstances, it’s clear to me that this team believes in him and responds positively to his leadership.”
While Caldwell was waiting for a decision, he said he took time to analyze tape of the entire 2015 season, looking at personnel and schemes on offense, defense and special teams. Typically, that’s something he would’ve done with this staff, but like Caldwell, their futures in Detroit were uncertain at the time, too.
“One of the things that you well know is that I don’t worry a whole lot about things that I can’t control,” he said.
To a man, Lions players were thrilled with Quinn’s decision to keep Caldwell. Even though the final call was up to Quinn, owner Martha Firestone Ford supported the coach the Lions hired in 2014.
“She’s been supportive since I’ve been here, throughout everything that we’ve done, trying to make certain that we have everything we need to win,” Caldwell said.
Asked how he convinced Quinn he was the right man for the job, Caldwell said Quinn already addressed it.
“It’s very difficult for me to make that determination,” he said.